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My NGO and partners are producing a feature film about Russian speakers in the world, and to explain its point as bias-breaking, we came up with the name out, that's nicely expanded in the slogan as out of politics, out of bias, out of propaganda.

Today a colleague from the US brought to my attention that out has strong sexual minority connotations. Having a reasonably good command of English I disagree, but then I thought I need another opinion. We just started crowd-funding for it and wouldn't like to be looking funny. The context may be seen at http://outfilm.cmpip.org. Advice is much appreciated!

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"Today a colleague from the US brought to my attention that out has strong sexual minority connotations" - sure, of course it does (certainly in the US). "Having a reasonably good command of English I disagree" .. you're wrong on this one. Ask anyone in the US. "Out" would be a typical name for say a homosexual-oriented magazine (I think there might be such a title already??) –  Joe Blow Aug 20 at 14:55
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I tried searching for LGBT film titles with the word OUT in them in my coffee break. Not so easy at work, so I stopped. –  mplungjan Aug 20 at 14:56
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@mplungjan, yeah, same for my link - gotta bury that in my browsing history! lol! –  Kristina Lopez Aug 20 at 14:59
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aren't u guys supposed to be living in democratic countries... oh man the next film we do is going to be about people who were wrongly stereotyped by the nature of websites they visit from their office :)) lol :)) I appreciate both your courage and help! :) –  Igor R Aug 20 at 15:01
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How about Outside? There is another word, without, which technically is the opposite of within, ie on the outside of something, though these days it tends to mean not having. Many a schoolchild has been puzzled by the hymn There is a green hill far away/Without a city wall. –  Mynamite Aug 20 at 16:37

3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I imagine that your US colleague was referring to the expression, "out", used when a LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, trans-sexual) person goes public with their alternate-lifestyle orientation. It's referred to as "coming out of the closet", and has been morphed into "outing" or "outed" when it's done to someone by someone else:

"He was outed by his disgruntled ex-lover."

"She was angered by the newspaper's outing of her lesbian affair."

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thanks Kristina. I understand what he was referring to, but the question is whether the word OUT by itself, and in particular in the context presented in the question, raises such connotations. –  Igor R Aug 20 at 14:35
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To me it would. I am neither LGBT nor native English speaker but I would still expect it to be about coming out or outing someone –  mplungjan Aug 20 at 14:36
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@IgorR, as a AmE native speaker, in the context of today's social environment, if I saw something called "OUT", my first assumption would be that it was about someone's sexual orientation being exposed. –  Kristina Lopez Aug 20 at 14:38
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@Dan - I know a LOT less about Baseball than I know about LGBT - I would assume LGBT unless it had innings and stuff surrounding it –  mplungjan Aug 20 at 14:41
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@Dan, if I saw an ad that had a baseball with the word "OUT" superimposed on it, I still think my first thought might be that it's about a gay baseball player. Now if it said, "You're Out!", given the additional context of a baseball expression, that would be different. :-) –  Kristina Lopez Aug 20 at 14:41

The connotation is not just LGBT-related. You can come out as a bronie. You can be outed as a spy.

However, your friend is right. If your documentary is not about LGBT people coming out of the closet, then it is a bad choice for a title if your documentary is meant to play in US and EU.

For example, this hugely popular song works for all kinds of coming out, but it is nevertheless seen as an LGBT anthem:

I’m Coming Out — Diana Ross https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%27m_Coming_Out

… so even if your documentary is about coming out as a Russian speaker, people will assume at first that it is about coming out as LGBT.

Also, one of the most popular LGBT magazines of the past 20+ years is called “Out:”

Out Magazine https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Out_(magazine)

The reason people hear an LGBT connotation is that we are 40+ years into a massive worldwide social movement that encourages LGBT people not to “stay in the closet,” but rather to “come out” and gain strength in numbers to resist heterosexual violence and oppression. Once you have “come out,” you are said to be “out.” You may be referred to as an “out lesbian.” You might know someone is LGBT, but you might ask someone else, “is he out?” You might be careful not to accidentally “out” someone who is in the closet, because by doing so you may get them fired, evicted, beaten, or killed by heterosexuals.

My understanding is that Russia is many years behind US and EU with regards to LGBT rights, so you may not hear your title in the same way that people in US and EU might hear it. But later down the road, you may hear it that way and personally regret the title.

But separate from the LGBT-related connotation, I really don’t understand your title and tag line, and I’m British and US American. Do you mean “[Coming] Out” or “[Getting] Out” or “[Run] Out” or “[With]out” or “Out[side]?” You may have to be more explicit because we don’t know as much about the project as of course you do. You may need to be over-informative in your own eyes, because all of your potential viewers are under-informed.

I recommend you consider creating a new title for your documentary. “Out” not only says too much about something unrelated, it seems to me that it doesn’t say enough about the actual work. A good title can be really hard, but it’s so important. It’s a handle that your viewers can use to pull your work closer to them. With your source material, it seems to me that you have a lot of culture and creativity to draw from, so I feel like there is a better title waiting for you in the aether if you continue to chase it.

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Kristina's answer is short and to the point, but I definitely agree with the latter half of this answer. Even reading the description in the question, I can't figure out what "out" is supposed to be referring to. If the movie about breaking stereotypes, then that's definitely the wrong word to use... –  Izkata Aug 20 at 20:55
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In addition to Out the magazines (there are several), there are also things like OutGames (the LGBT Olympics), Out (LGBT film festival), OUT (South African LGBT association), the AllOut campaign, and many, many, many more. –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 20 at 22:15

I cannot see the word OUT without thinking outing/coming out

It does by the way not sound very idiomatic to say out of bias, out of borders, out of propaganda

Apart, Beyond, Besides even Without sounds better to me - more here

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when you say "not very idiomatic" does it mean hard to understand or just not typical use? can it be seen as a kind of poetic form? –  Igor R Aug 20 at 15:14
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It doesn't sound like something a native speaker would say, even poetically. –  Chris Sunami Aug 20 at 15:17
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Downvoting without commenting is worse than useless –  mplungjan Aug 20 at 18:28
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Looks like a drive-by downvoting @mplungjan! Both answers and the question got downvoted. grr! –  Kristina Lopez Aug 20 at 18:34
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Indeed "out of propaganda" sounds like you've "run out". As in your had 10 ideas for propaganda but now you've used those and you're "out of propaganda" and will have to develop some real policies –  Richard Tingle Aug 21 at 10:29

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